Age at onset of Alzheimer's disease: relation to pattern of cognitive dysfunction and rate of decline

D, Jacobs; Sano, M; Marder, K; Bell, K; Bylsma, F; Lafleche, G; Albert, M; Brandt, J; Stern, Yaakov

We examined the pattern of cognitive impairment and rate of cognitive and functional decline as a function of age at symptom onset in 127 patients with probable Alzheimer's disease (AD). At baseline, early-onset (before age 65) and late-onset groups were mildly and comparably impaired on the modified Mini-Mental State Examination (mMMS) and the Blessed Dementia Rating Scale-Part 1 (BDRS). Repeated-measures analysis of variance revealed significantly more rapid decline in early-onset subjects over a 2-year follow-up period. Multivariate linear regression analyses indicated that age at symptom onset strongly predicted rate of decline on the mMMS and the BDRS, even after controlling for symptom duration, gender, family history of dementia, and baseline mMMS and BDRS scores. Early- and late-onset AD subjects also differed in terms of pattern of performance on the mMMS. Early-onset subjects scored significantly lower than late-onset subjects on attentional items of the mMMS at baseline and follow-up. Conversely, late-onset subjects scored significantly lower than early-onset subjects on memory and naming items at baseline, and the two groups were comparable on these tasks at follow-up. Results provide longitudinal evidence of more rapid cognitive and functional decline in subjects with early-onset AD and suggest that early-onset AD may be characterized by predominant impairment of attentional skills.



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February 11, 2022